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Region searched for shooter of 2 officers

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 26, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.

This is a BancorpSouth bank surveillance screen shot released by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety of a bank robbery Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 i...

TUPELO, Miss. — Investigators from multiple agencies are canvassing the South for leads after a Tupelo police officer was killed and a second was critically injured in a shootout Monday with suspected bank robbers.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Ray Hall said police don't have a suspect yet in the fatal shooting of Cpl. Kevin Gale Stauffer, 38, but authorities are chasing down leads and talking to people of interest.

Also shot was 27-year-old Officer Joseph Maher. He remained hospitalized Thursday at North Mississippi Medical Center.

Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said Stauffer and Maher responded to a robbery call at BancorpSouth in Tupelo about 3:15 p.m. Monday. The two officers, in separate cars, pursued the robbers’ car and those in the vehicle jumped out and began firing at the officers.

The robbers are still at large. On Tuesday, police released surveillance footage from a convenience store showing an unidentified man whom they said they want to interview.

Aguirre said investigators are making progress as tips are coming in to a hotline, and officers are looking at every lead.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said billboards were made and will be posted in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas to get the word and photos out. He also asked the public not rely on social media for their news.

"We thank everyone for support and prayers," he said. "We are asking that because of social networking that any information that is obtained by any source other than that of officials working this case to be considered non-reliable. Please use caution if posting information due to the safety of the officers that are still working to apprehend the person or persons responsible."

Businesses and governments are offering a $162,500 reward for information related to the shootings and the robbery.

The case is being handled by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI with additional law enforcement agencies offering assistance.

The FBI is looking for at least one male robber who might be heavily armed and others. Investigators say the shooter is about 5-foot-9 to 6-feet tall, thin, possibly black with light complexion. He's believed to be in a charcoal color, medium-sized four-door sedan, possibly a Chrysler 200 or a Honda of some type. He also may be on foot, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen during a Monday night news conference.

The shooter may have been injured in the confrontation with police, and the car may have gunfire damage, McMullen said.

Stauffer had been with the Tupelo Police Department since 2005. He previously worked as a jailer for the Lee County sheriff’s office and was in the Louisiana Army National Guard. His funeral services are set for Friday.

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